FRAY_DEV: Building the Future

Creative industries are powered by talent and originality. Our sector relies on the lived experience of the people who work with us to drive innovation and reach audiences with an authentic voice. If we are to create live experiences that connect with people from across the world, we need to welcome in new talent from the widest range of backgrounds possible.

However, access to arts education has collapsed in the UK. Many young people don’t think of the arts as a viable career path and may not even know that a career in creating video for live events is possible. Our industry is struggling to attract new talent and, if we are to safeguard the future of our sector, we need to come together to address this urgent problem.  

We are therefore calling on leaders across the industry to join with FRAY to harness the potential of FRAY_DEV to create real change in how people get started in our industry.

FRAY_DEV is working to create a community of aspiring artists where, irrespective of background, everyone has access to the tools, mentorship, and professional network needed to flourish. The platform has previously demonstrated that the talent and energy needed to enrich our industry is out there, just waiting for the opportunity to take part and wider support will enable FRAY_DEV to effect sector-wide change.  

The Barriers to Entry

Getting into our industry is tough. New entrants into our field have to know that exciting careers in creating video are available, have experience using the software required and have the purchasing power to buy and maintain hardware. All of these barriers to entry are getting harder, and more expensive to navigate. 

In 2023 it was reported that the number of students taking an arts GCSE fell by a further 4% to its lowest figure yet, with only 7.1% of all GCSE entries being for an arts subject[1]

In November 2023, creative professionals felt compelled to come together to petition the government to reverse the decline in investment in arts teaching in the state sector. The Creative Industry Alliance says urgent action is needed to enable one of the UK’s most profitable industries to recruit the diversity of talent needed[2].

The key word here is diversity, because it’s the state sector that is being starved of the arts. In contrast, arts education in fee-paying schools continues to thrive. Here it is rightfully seen as essential for well-rounded learning and student well-being.  

It matters that young people from diverse backgrounds can’t access arts at school because arts education is crucial for both enabling discovery of careers in the arts and for gaining access to the university courses that are often the launch-pad for careers in creating video for performance. Sadly, even if students are able to discover these courses, the cost of university is now impossible for many. The debt-burden from three years of study is particularly difficult for many people to justify if it is to enter a career-path which is less well understood than one of the traditional professions.  

The often-quoted idea that access to arts education doesn’t matter because people can pick up the skills in their spare time, isn’t true for our profession, if it’s true for any arts discipline. If you are going to gain the skills to enter our industry you have to be familiar with a very particular set of software packages. We shouldn’t underestimate the challenge of discovering what software is required. Add on the cost of the software, and the hardware to run it, and again it’s easy to see why money and connections can make all the difference to getting into our sector. 

This all means that we are losing voices from our industry and that is a disaster. Cultural, ethnic and socio-economic diversity is essential for creative endeavours. If we want to produce art that can speak to every audience we need people from every community to help shape the industry, bringing the nuances and insights that only they can offer. 

It also doesn’t help that our industry is relatively new. Of the eight people in our team at FRAY, only one of us took a course of study directly related to video for live performance.  The rest of us came into video sideways from other training routes and professions.  There isn’t a recognised pathway into our industry and that makes it even harder for us to reach outside our bubble.

The Vision 

FRAY_DEV lifts the curtain on our industry. It is a free resource that aims to level the playing field. Allowing anyone with a passion for our industry to gain the knowledge, experience and, crucially, community that are essential to successfully launch a career. It also seeks to instil the attitude we want to foster in our community, promoting collaborative problem solving and encouraging generous, innovative thinking.

Through our website and  Discord server we enable participants to partake in real-world creative briefs and, with the support of the community of their peers and participants from FRAY and across the industry, develop their response to these briefs. Within DEV they can discover the software used by professionals, see how live events are run and navigate the creative process from a place of playful exploration rather than expectation. 

The community of FRAY_DEV is at the heart of the offer. It’s a place where questions start conversations, critiques build confidence, and people share their unique perspectives and ways of approaching creative challenges. We have structured DEV so that it benefits both people who are entirely new to this work and those who are ready to launch their career. 

It is our intention that the FRAY_DEV community will become the foundation of each participant’s professional network and that the conversations and collaborations begun on our Discord server will continue throughout their creative life.

FRAY_DEV serves as a bridge between theoretical knowledge and practical application. Participants have the chance to see how they would operate in a professional environment and to understand how their creative practice responds to real-world challenges. We want participants to have that lightbulb moment when they realise that what they are editing right now could amaze audiences in theatres, arenas or stadiums right across the world.

The Programme

FRAY_DEV aspires to be the home for new potential. By providing a space to explore, we empower participants, giving them the opportunity to experiment, take risks and to embrace the unknown without consequences.  The community of peers created are already modelling collaborative working and proving the old adage that people succeed as groups rather than as individuals.

The virtual space of FRAY_DEV  is only the beginning of our commitment to the programme. We run seminars and advice sessions on the platform. These go beyond simple instruction as we want to provide insight and demystify industry norms, readying participants for a career.  We also believe it is essential to equip those participants who need material support  with essential resources such as software licences and hardware. Without the tools of our industry, talented people will never have the chance to demonstrate what they can do.

The FRAY_DEV programme’s foundational focus is on creative briefs that mirror real-world projects, equipping participants with the necessary skills to comprehend, develop, and execute these briefs. The typical workflow is as follows:

  • Initiation of the Brief: FRAY_DEV sets the creative brief and hosts a Zoom seminar for an in-depth briefing. This session allows participants to ask questions and receive additional resources pertinent to the brief, such as insights into deconstructing a pop song or understanding UV mapping for animation.
  • Moodboard Development: Participants independently craft a moodboard reflecting their vision. These moodboards are shared on the Discord server, where they receive feedback from both the FRAY team and peers, fostering a collaborative and supportive environment.
  • Exploration Phase: At this stage, participants engage in the early stages of video creation. They experiment with various tools and techniques, focusing on the learning process rather than the end result. Progress and experiences are shared on Discord, benefiting from the collective wisdom of FRAY experts and fellow participants.
  • Digital Drop-In Sessions: Throughout the process, FRAY_DEV offers digital drop-in sessions. These informal sessions provide a platform for participants to seek advice from FRAY professionals and industry veterans, distinct from the more structured panel discussions and seminars that address broader industry issues.
  • Project Development: Participants now advance to finalising their projects, with an emphasis on applying their newly acquired knowledge. The goal is not to produce a stage-ready piece, but to foster excitement and practical application of skills. Feedback and critique are provided, focusing on artistic advancement and self-confidence.
  • Sharing and Reflection: Finally, participants present their completed work on the Discord server. A concluding group seminar is organized to facilitate sharing of experiences, reflections on the creative journey, and discussions on future improvements and learning.

All of this, we believe, equips participants with strong, demonstrable examples of work that they can present to prospective employers, realistically reflecting what they can expect in the actual industry environment. This approach is tried and tested: we have employed many of the original DEV participants as animators, associates, and assistants on real projects, showcasing the tangible success and efficacy of the FRAY_DEV programme.

We want to go even further and to offer hands-on, tangible experiences and access to the physical world of our sector. Organised visits to key locations such as a warehouse housing equipment or a production rehearsal, where FRAY_DEV participants could witness the sheer number of people involved in putting on a show, would be invaluable.  Perhaps one day we could even run week-long workshops where participants can take part in running through a model brief with a tangible outcome.

To achieve its full potential, FRAY_DEV requires an ambitious and innovative outreach strategy. Utilising social media, industry platforms, and educational partnerships, we want to extend our reach to people who have no idea of the sheer possibilities of a career within live entertainment. 

The Future

FRAY_DEV is not about just filling a gap. The long-term health of our sector relies on attracting new talent so this must become a recognised path into a career in video for live events. 

We believe FRAY_DEV can also play an important role in professional development. Taking on briefs within the DEV platform allows early-career professionals to explore new areas and try out new responsibilities, setting them up for future success. We aim to apply for CPD accreditation so that this important, ongoing professional development function will be captured in a recognised framework. Enabling motivated individuals to take control of their careers can only enrich our professional community.

FRAY_DEV began as an ad hoc experiment in lockdown and from these beginnings we are already seeing remarkable things. The first generations of FRAY_DEV alumni are even now making their way in this industry. There is something incredible about seeing someone who we first encountered on the DEV platform, trying to get to grips with After Effects, now out there in the world, thriving and building a career. I can’t wait to meet more FRAY_DEV alumni and to see the amazing things they will create. 

These new starters demonstrate what this programme could achieve with the wider support of our sector. Therefore we call on creatives and industry leaders to join us and invest in the future of creativity and talent for our industry. Together we can achieve a vibrant industry, rich with diverse perspectives and ideas, where talented people have the opportunity to soar.

The legacy of FRAY_DEV will always be its alumni. We believe that this programme can help to bring people in to our industry who we will all be desperate to employ, and who will elevate the standards, attitudes and collaborative spirit within video for live entertainment. 

We are looking for your support, whether through sponsorship, mentorship, or resources. Come and talk with us about the possibilities offered by FRAY_DEV and stake your claim in the future of our industry.

[1]Entries to GCSE arts exams hit new low’ Arts Professional  30-08-2023

[2] Creative Industry Alliance  

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